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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Tayron Guerrero

A late-bloomer with extraordinary fastball velocity, Guerrero continues to search for the other ingredients needed to be a consistent pitcher in the big leagues.

Photo by @tyronguerrero57/Instagram

With the regular season just days away, the Marlins are finalizing their 2019 roster. About a year ago, they took a chance on a raw power arm named Tayron Guerrero. The fastball velocity is impressive, routinely sitting at 98 to 100 mph and peaking at several ticks higher than that.

Let’s take a look at the tape:

Easy velo and natural arm talent are apparent here. That’s where the positives start to tail off, though.

The Ugly

Guerrero gets hit at an alarming level for a guy with his velocity. He gets hit every which way you slice it. His batting average against is .272, 30 points higher than league average for relievers. His BABIP was also an extremely high .352. It went beyond just bad luck—the tall Colombian ranked in the 35th percentile in exit velocity against, according to Statcast, suggesting that opponents saw the ball well out of his hand and put their best swings on it.

His distribution of hits also shows an interesting development. League-wide, the distributions mostly lead to the pull side. With Tayron, the highest percentage of his hits are up the middle. It is very easy to locate pitch type with his elongated delivery and pitch percentage data. In addition to this, you will also notice his contact type of the lowest percentage is soft contact. So batters are, again, right on his pitches.

Secondly, his inability to repeat his delivery leads me to have concerns about his focus. Guerrero often looks lackadaisical on the mound. He is your prototypical “thrower” rather than a “pitcher.”

Last, I examined the zone profile in my search for positives.

Huge mistake. He gets tagged everywhere against his four-seamer, which is the pitch he leans on 76 percent of the time:

Tayron Guerrero - Zone Profile Against Fastball
Brooks Baseball

At least his changeup and slider provide some potential for solutions:

Tayron Guerrero - Zone Profile Against Slider
Brooks Baseball
Tayron Guerrero - Zone Profile Against Changeup
Brooks Baseball

Tayron would be wise to modify that offspeed weapon into a splitter or a split/change. He needs a deceptive pitch beside slider. The plane change of the splitter would be ideal. With his high velocity, the ability to recognize the pitch would be difficult. Plane change is very important in today’s game as many pitchers work the vertical axis—particularly the top of the strike zone—a lot more than in the past. This makes have a plane change pitch extremely important for most pitchers. When pitchers possess this type of pitch makes an even more significant challenge for hitters when pitchers combine that with horizontal movement.

A pitcher who has a somewhat similar profile from a velocity standpoint is Frankie Montas. Montas has increased the usage of his splitter this spring and it has helped him significantly enough to earn a rotation spot. Despite the fact Tayron is not a starter, the profile of fastball/slider/split seems like one that would reap positive rewards.

His slider is very effective and shows great potential merely for the fact that he has it. He doesn’t really throw the pitch with much polish and it’s extremely flat, but paired with high-level velocity, it poses a solid combination for hitters to think about. This allowed it to be his most effective out-getting pitch last season.

Tayron Guerrero - BAA
Brooks Baseball

Ultimately, Guerrero is a work in progress and only time will tell if he will be able to put it all together. Lucky for him, the Marlins have opportunities for toolsy projects in 2019. He’ll be a middle reliever on Opening Day and attempt to grow into something much more than that by adjusting to be a more well-rounded pitcher in his second major league campaign.